Caregiving and the Coronavirus

covid virus

As we all know, the CDC is currently responding to a pandemic outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus and the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed. It is believed that the virus spreads mainly from person-to-person through close contact and respiratory droplets (produced from cough/sneeze).

What does this mean for Caregivers? Well, it means that now more than ever we need to be prepared.

Some people are at a greater risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes: older adults, those with diabetes, those with lung disease, and those with already compromised immune systems. If you are caregiving for someone who may be at a higher risk for serious illness due to age or a serious long-term health problem, it is extremely important to take action to be prepared.

A few tips from the CDC for Family and Caregiver Support:

Have extra supplies on hand.

– Know what medications your loved one is taking and what medical supplies they may need. Contact their health provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time. If you cannot get extra medications/supplies, consider using mail-order.

– Stock up on household items (cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc.) and non-perishable food items to have on hand in your home to minimize trips to stores. It may be wise to have enough household items and groceries to stay home for two weeks.

Take everyday precautions and preventive actions.

– Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

– Clean your hands often. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

– To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something. Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.

– Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.

– Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)

– Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.

– Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially cruise ships.

If you care for a loved one living in a care facility, monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.